Genesis 4:17-5:32 & Common and Special

Our kindergarten teacher told all of us that we were “special”.  If we are all “special” doesn’t that mean that none of us are?

In our text we have two genealogies; one marked by common grace the other by saving grace.  John Murray defined God’s common grace as:

Every favor of whatever kind or degree, falling short of salvation, which this undeserving and sin cursed world enjoys at the hand of God.

The reason we call it common is because it is shared among all men in general.  It is familiar, popular, ordinary.  It is upon all men in general (Matthew 5:43-45).  This is not to say it is not amazing and great.  That we are not all justly suffering in hell is owing to the benevolence of God.

Jabel, Jubal, and Tubal (parents notice that this naming phenomena begins in the line of Cain.  Homophonous child naming is of the devil) make great strides in cultural progress, but it is only owing to God’s common grace.  God disperses talent, gifts, materials, and time to such individuals.  This doctrine allows us to accept gifts from the secular world form the hand of God and make them sacred.  The issue isn’t if it has a “Christian” label, but if you receive it from the Christian God or the god of Apple.  Despite all the advancement, there is no mention of special grace anywhere in the line of Cain.  “In the history of salvation,” writes Derek Kidner, “the line of Cain is an irrelevance.”

It is in the line of Seth that we see marks of special grace.  Here men call on the name of the Lord (Genesis 4:26).  Here we are reminded of original creation before the fall (Genesis 5:1-2).  Here the death formula is broken (Genesis 5:24).  This is the lineage of Christ (Luke 3:23-38).

You may invent the self-microwaving pizza – common.  You may come up with the ultimate clean fuel solution – common.  You may replace George on the one dollar bill – common.  You may dwarf the dynasties of Google, Apple, and Microsoft – common.  But to be evidence of the reclaiming of the imago Dei, to walk with God, to break the somber rhythm of death, to be part of God’s plan in making much of the Messiah, this is special.

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